PIL Seeking Display Of Criminal Antecedents Of Candidates At Polling Stations: SC Asks Petitioner To Pursue Representation Before EC
The Supreme Court yesterday disposed of a Public Interest Litigation seeking direction to the Election Commission for publishing information concerning criminal antecedents and assets of contesting candidates at the Polling Station.
“You can move the representation and pursue the representation,” said a Bench led by CJI DY Chandrachud and comprising Justice PS Narasimha and Justice JB Pardiwala.
“My prayer is that relevant information must be a part of the list of contesting candidates and (information) must be affixed at the polling station at a conspicuous place,” submitted Dr. Adwaita Gahlot, the petitioner-in-person.
“But, where?” asked the Court.
“In the list of contesting candidates so that the voter can be made aware of contesting candidates,” replied the petitioner-in-person. “I have requested them (Election Commission) to do the same, but if you would direct them, it would be very good for survival of our democracy,” she added.
The petition prayed that the Election Commission of India publishes a list of contesting candidates by putting the candidate's relevant information like criminal antecedents (if any), assets and liabilities, and educational qualifications on it. Further, it prayed that such a list may be displayed in a conspicuous place at the polling station.
“This petition has been instituted under Article 32 on the basis of decision of this Court in Union of India v. Association for Democratic Reforms & Anr. (2002) 5 SCC 294 requiring certain disclosures from the candidates of the electorate. The petitioner seeks directions for the disclosure of list of candidates and the display of information at the polling station and has already moved the representation. We leave her to pursue representation at this stage. The petition is accordingly disposed of,” ordered the Court.
As per the plea, the main reason for the degrading standards of Parliamentarians and State Legislators is that the voters are kept in the dark about the relevant information about the candidates they are going to elect and the solution lies in putting this relevant information (buried in affidavits) on the list of contesting candidates published under Section 38 of Representation of Peoples Act, 1951.
“The Respondent Commission has deprived the voter of their Fundamental Right to know the relevant information about the Candidates they are going to Vote by not publishing the relevant information on the LIST OF CONTESTING CANDIDATES. The List Of Contesting Candidates is displayed at the POLLING STATION also,” said the plea.
The Supreme Court earlier in Union of India Vs. Association for Democratic Reforms & Another had directed the Election Commission of India to call for the following information on an affidavit from each candidate seeking election to Parliament or a State Legislature:
(i) criminal antecedents (if any),
(ii) assets and liabilities and
(iii) educational qualification.
Cause Title- Dr. Adwaita Gahlot Kapur & Anr. v. Election Commission of India & Anr.